As a Man Thinketh
by James Allen
First published 1902 in Ilfracombe, England
Rendering by Christopher Westra
The included text has been designated in the public domain
by author Christopher Westra and is hereby used according to his permission. (Westra’s declaration regarding this work has
been reprinted at the end of this e-book.)
This edition prepared by Abundant Health Chiropractic
This little volume (the result of meditation and experience) is not intended as an exhaustive treatise on the much-written-upon subject of the power of thought.
It is suggestive rather than explanatory, its object being to stimulate men and women to the discovery and perception of the truth that—
“They themselves are makers of themselves”
by virtue of the thoughts which they choose and encourage; that mind is the master-weaver, both of the inner garment of character and the outer garment of circumstance, and that, as they may have hitherto woven in ignorance and pain they may now weave in enlightenment and happiness.
The saying, "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he," embraces the whole of your being. This noble truth is so comprehensive as to reach out to every condition and circumstance of your life.
You are literally what you think, your character being the complete sum of all your thoughts.
You have seen how a plant springs from, and could not be without, the seed. So every one of your acts springs from the hidden seeds of your thought, and could not have appeared without them.
This applies to those acts you call "spontaneous" as well as to those acts you deliberately choose.
Act is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruit. Thus do you gather in the sweet or bitter fruits of your own inward thoughts.
You become what you become because of natural law. Cause and effect are as absolute and consistent in the hidden realm of thought as in the world of visible and material things.
Thought appears to be hidden but thought and spirit are actually made of matter. All thought is matter but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes. We usually cannot see it now, but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter.
A noble and God-like character is not a thing of favor or chance. Such a character is the natural result of continued effort in right thinking. You can create a God-like character through long-cherished association with God-like thoughts.
A cowardly or savage character, by the same process, is the result of the continued harboring of groveling thoughts.
You create your own success or failure. In the armory of thought you build the tools by which you create yourself, or you forge the weapons by which you destroy yourself. You also fashion the tools with which you build for yourself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace.
By the right choice and true application of thought, you ascend to divine perfection. By the abuse and wrong application of thought you descend below the level of the beast. Between these two extremes are all the grades of character, and you are the maker and master.
Many beautiful truths pertaining to the soul have been restored and brought to light in this age. One of the happiest and most promising of these truths is that you are the master of thought and the molder of your character. You are the maker and shaper of condition, environment, and destiny.
As a being of power, intelligence, and love, and the lord of your own thoughts, you hold the key to every situation. You contain within yourself that transforming power by which you may make yourself what you will.
You are always the master, even in your weakest and most abandoned state. But in your weakness and degradation you are a foolish master who misgoverns your "household."
When you begin to reflect upon your condition and search diligently for the law upon which your being is established, you then become the wise master. You direct your energies with intelligence and fashion your thoughts to fruitful issues.
Such is the conscious master, and you can only thus become by discovering within yourself the laws of thought. This discovery is totally a matter of application, self-analysis and experience.
Only by much searching and mining are gold and diamonds obtained, and you can find every truth connected with your being, if you will dig deep into the mine of your soul.
That you are the maker of your character, the molder of your life, and the builder of your destiny, you may prove to yourself. You can prove this if you will watch, control, and alter your thoughts, tracing their effects upon yourself, upon others, and upon your life and circumstances.
As you link cause and effect by patient practice and investigation, you will grow in clarity and insight.
Utilize your every experience, even the most trivial everyday occurrence, as a means of obtaining knowledge of yourself. This knowledge will lift your life to new levels of understanding, wisdom, and power.
In this way you will find the law absolute that "He that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened."
For only by patience, practice, and continual seeking can a man enter the door of the temple of knowledge.
Your mind may be likened to a garden. This garden may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild. But whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, grow something.
If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed-seeds will fall into it, and will continue to produce their kind.
A gardener cultivates his plot, keeping it free from weeds, and growing the flowers and fruits that he requires. So may you tend the garden of your mind, weeding out all the wrong, useless, and impure thoughts.
Cultivate toward perfection the flowers and fruits of right, useful, and pure thoughts. Thus you will grow in truth, intelligence, and light.
By pursuing this process, you sooner or later discover that you are the master-gardener of your soul, the director of your life.
You also reveal, within yourself, the flaws of thought. You will understand, with ever-increasing accuracy, how the thought-forces and mind elements operate in the shaping of your character, circumstances, and destiny.
Thought leads to character. As character can only reveal itself through environment and circumstance, the outer conditions of your life will always be harmoniously related to your inner state.
This does not mean that your circumstances at any given time indicate your entire character. It does mean that your outer conditions are intimately connected to some vital inner thought processes. Some of these thoughts and beliefs may be below the level of your current awareness.
You are where you are in life because of the laws of thought. The thoughts that you have built into your character have brought you here. In the arrangement of your life there is no element of chance, but all is the result of a law that cannot be broken.
This is just as true for those of you who feel "out of harmony" with your surroundings as for those of you who are contented with your place in life.
As a progressive and evolving being, you are where you are so that you may learn. You are shown the results of your thoughts so that you may grow.
As you learn the spiritual lesson that any set of circumstances contains for you, those conditions pass away and give place to other circumstances.
You will be knocked about by circumstances so long as you believe yourself to be the victim of outside conditions. But when you realize that you are a creative power, and that you may command the hidden soil and seeds of your being out of which circumstances grow, you then become your own rightful master.
You know that circumstances grow out of thought, if for any length of time you have practiced thought control. You know this because you have seen for yourself that the change in your circumstances has been in exact proportion to your changed mental condition.
You will find that when you earnestly apply yourself to remedy the defects in your character, you will make swift progress. You will eliminate many bad habits and establish a powerful foundation for success.
Your soul attracts that which it secretly desires. Yes, you attract that which you love, and also that which you fear. You reach the height of your cherished dreams. You fall to the level of your vulgar desires. Your circumstances are the means by which your soul receives it own.
Every seed of thought you sow into your mind, and allow to take root there, blossoms sooner or later into act. Then your actions bear their own fruits, revealed in your own opportunities and circumstances.
Your good thoughts bear good fruit in your life.
Your bad thoughts bear bad fruit in your life.
The outer world of your circumstances shapes itself to the inner world of your thought. This fantastic and creative schooling method developed by our Creator helps us to develop in this life.
Both pleasant and unpleasant external conditions are factors which make for your ultimate good. All your experiences will provide treasures for your soul, if you learn from them.
As you reap your own harvest, you learn both of suffering and bliss. You can choose to pursue vain imaginings and wanderings, or to walk the highway of strong and focused thought.
You follow your inmost desires, thoughts, and longings. As you decide what great or ordinary ideas dominate your thinking, you will at last achieve their fulfillment in the outer conditions of your life.
The law of attraction and the law of restoration apply everywhere.
You will not come to the poorhouse or the jail by the tyranny of fate or circumstance, but by the pathway of groveling thoughts and low desires.
Nor does a pure-minded man or woman fall suddenly into crime simply by external temptation. On the contrary, the criminal thought had long been secretly fostered in their heart, and the hour of opportunity simply revealed its gathered power.
Circumstance does not make you do anything. Circumstance will only reveal you to yourself.
You do not descend into vice and its attendant sufferings apart from vicious inclinations. Neither can you ascend into virtue and its pure happiness unless you continually cultivate virtuous ideals.
You are therefore the lord and master of your thought, and the shaper and author of your environment.
You do not attract that which you want, but that which you are.
Your whims, your fancies, and your ambitions may be thwarted at every step. But your inmost thoughts and desires are fed with their own food, be it foul or clean, and restored unto you again.
You are chained only by yourself. Your thoughts and actions are the jailors of your Fate. When negative and cowardly, your thoughts imprison you. Your thoughts and actions are also the angels of Freedom. When noble and courageous, they liberate you!
You don’t get what you only wish and pray for, but what you justly earn.
Your wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with your thoughts and actions.
Do you ever feel that you are “fighting against circumstances”? You feel this way when you struggle against external conditions, while all the time you nourish and preserve the inner cause in your heart.
That inner cause may take the form of a conscious vice or an unconscious weakness. Whatever it is, that inner cause abolishes your chances to achieve the outer success you really want. This is true until you break that bad habit of thought, and replace it with a better one.
Are you one of those who are anxious to improve your circumstances, but unwilling to improve yourself? If so, you remain bound.
When you implement willingly a plan of self-control and self-sacrifice, you will accomplish any object you set your heart on.
This is true of earthly and of heavenly things.
Even when your only object is to acquire wealth, you must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices before you can accomplish your object. This is much more so when you would create for yourself a strong and well-poised life.
It may be pleasing to our human vanity to believe that we suffer because of our virtue. However, not until you have eliminated every bitter or impure thought from your soul, can you really know that you suffer because of your good qualities rather than your bad qualities.
Long before you have reached that point of supreme perfection, you will have discovered the great law working in your mind and in your life. This great law, which is absolutely just, brings back good for good, and evil for evil.
You will then know, looking back upon your past ignorance and blindness, that your life is, and always was, justly ordered. You will then know that all your past experiences, good and bad, were simply the fair and just restoration of this great law.
This law of restoration cannot be escaped, so let the law work in your favor by choosing right thoughts.
Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results. Bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results.
This is only saying that nothing can come from corn seeds but corn, and nothing from weed seeds but weeds.
People tend to understand this law in the natural world, and work with it. But few understand it in the mental and moral world, even though its operation there is just as simple and clear. If you don’t understand this law of returning good for good and evil for evil, then you won’t cooperate with it.
Suffering is always the effect of wrong thought in some direction. It is an indication that your thinking is out of harmony with your true self and with the law of your being.
The sole and supreme use of suffering is to purify, and to burn out all that is useless and impure.
Suffering ceases for those who are pure.
There could be no object in burning gold after the impurities have been removed. A perfectly pure and enlightened being could not suffer.
Painful circumstances are the result of your own mental inharmony.
Blessed circumstances are the result of your own mental harmony.
Blessedness, not material possessions, is the measure of right thought. Wretchedness, not lack of material possessions, is the measure of wrong thought.
You may be cursed and rich, and you may be blessed and poor. Blessedness and riches are only joined together when your riches are rightly and wisely used.
You only descend into wretchedness when you regard your condition as a burden unjustly imposed.
Poverty and indulgence are the two extremes of wretchedness.
They are both equally unnatural and the result of mental disorder.
You are not rightly conditioned until you are a happy, healthy, and prosperous being. Happiness, health, and prosperity are the result of a harmonious adjustment of your inner life with your outer life.
You only begin to be powerful when you cease to whine and complain, and start to search for the hidden justice that regulates your life.
As you adapt your mind to this eternal law of cause and effect, you cease to accuse others as the cause of your condition.
You build yourself up in strong and noble thoughts and cease to fight against circumstances. You begin to use conditions as aids to your more rapid progress, and as a means of discovering the hidden powers and possibilities within yourself.
Law, not confusion, is the dominating principle in the universe. Justice, not injustice, is the soul and substance of life.
Righteousness, not corruption, is the molding and moving force in the spiritual government of the world.
When you follow these laws, you have only to right yourself to find that the universe is right. As you put yourself right, you will find that as you alter your thoughts towards things and other people, things and other people will alter towards you.
You can prove this truth to yourself simply by trying it out in your life. I challenge you to put it into practice today.
When you radically alter your thoughts, you will be astonished at the rapid transformation that will follow in the material conditions of your life.
You may imagine that thought can be kept secret, but it cannot. Your thought rapidly crystallizes into habit, and habit solidifies into your physical world.
The “fine matter” of thought really does crystallize into the denser matter of the “material” world. Here are some examples to think about.
Lustful thoughts crystallize into habits of drunkenness and sensuality. These habits then solidify into circumstances of destitution and disease.
Impure thoughts crystallize into weak and confusing habits. These habits then solidify into distracting and miserable circumstances.
Thoughts of fear and indecision crystallize into timid and cowardly habits. These habits solidify into circumstances of failure and poverty.
Lazy thoughts crystallize into habits of dirtiness and dishonesty. Then these habits solidify into circumstances of foulness and betrayal.
Hateful and condemning thoughts crystallize into habits of accusation and violence. These habits solidify, and manifest circumstances of injury and persecution.
Selfish thoughts of all kinds crystallize into habits of self-seeking. These habits of selfishness solidify into painful circumstances.
On the other hand, beautiful thoughts of all kinds crystallize into habits of grace and kindness. Then these kind habits solidify into pleasant and sunny circumstances.
Pure thoughts crystallize into habits of moderation and self-control. These habits solidify into restful circumstances of serenity and peace.
Thoughts of courage and decision crystallize into strong and decisive habits. These habits then solidify into circumstances of success and freedom.
Energetic thoughts crystallize into habits of cleanliness and industry. These habits solidify into circumstances of beauty and achievement.
Gentle and forgiving thoughts crystallize into tender habits. These habits then solidify into safe and protective circumstances.
Loving thoughts crystallize into warm and charitable habits. These habits solidify into circumstances of abiding prosperity and true riches.
Thus we see that a particular train of thought persisted in, be it good or bad, always produces its results on a person’s character and circumstances.
You may not directly choose your circumstances. However, you can choose your thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape your circumstances.
The natural laws of crystallization lead you to the gratification of the thoughts that you most encourage. Opportunities are presented to you that will most speedily bring to the surface both your good and the evil thoughts.
When you cease from your sinful thoughts, the entire world will soften towards you, and be ready to help you.
When you put away your weakly and sickly thoughts, opportunities will spring up on every hand to aid your strong resolve.
When you encourage good thoughts, you will press forward to greater peace, freedom, and abundance.
The world is your kaleidoscope. The varying combinations of colors that at every succeeding moment it presents to you are the exquisitely adjusted pictures of your ever-moving thoughts.
Your body is the servant of your mind.
It obeys the operations of the mind, whether they be deliberately chosen or automatically expressed.
At the bidding of unlawful thoughts the body sinks rapidly into disease and decay. At the command of glad and beautiful thoughts it becomes clothed with youthfulness and beauty.
Disease and health, like circumstances, are rooted in thought.
Sickly thoughts will express themselves through a sickly body.
Thoughts of fear have been known to kill a man as readily as a bullet. Sick thoughts are continually killing thousands of people just as surely, though less rapidly.
The people who live in fear of disease are the people who get it.
Anxiety quickly weakens the whole body, and lays it open to disease. Impure thoughts, even if not physically indulged, will soon depress the nervous system.
Strong, pure, and happy thoughts build up your body in vigor and grace.
Your body is delicate and shapeable, and will respond readily to the thoughts that you impress upon it. Your habits of thought will produce their own effects, good or bad, upon every part of your body.
People will continue to have impure and poisoned blood, so long as they maintain unclean thoughts.
Out of a clean heart comes a clean life and a clean body.
Out of a defiled mind proceeds a defiled life and a corrupt body.
Thought is the fount of action, life, and manifestation. Make the fountain pure, and all will be pure.
Changing your diet will not help you if you will not change your thoughts.
When your thoughts are pure, you no longer desire impure food. Clean thoughts make clean habits.
When your thoughts are strong and pure, you do not need to consider any offensive thoughts that lead to bodily weakness.
If you would perfect your body, guard your mind. If you would renew your body, beautify your mind.
Thoughts of malice, envy, and disappointment rob the body of its health and grace.
A sour face does not come by chance. Such a face is made by sour thoughts. Wrinkles that mar the face are drawn by folly, passion, and pride.
I know a woman of ninety-six who has the bright, innocent face of a girl. I know a man well under middle age whose face is drawn into unsightly contours.
The one is the result of a sweet and sunny disposition. The other is the outcome of passion and discontent.
You cannot have a sweet and wholesome home unless you admit the air and sunshine freely into your rooms. You cannot have a strong body and a bright and happy countenance unless you freely admit thoughts of joy and goodwill into your mind.
On the faces of the aged there are wrinkles made by sympathy, others by strong and pure thought, and others carved by passion. Who cannot distinguish them? With those who have lived righteously, age is calm, peaceful, and softly mellowed, like the setting sun.
I have recently seen a philosopher on his deathbed. He was not old except in years. He died as sweetly and peacefully as he had lived.
There is no physician like a cheerful thought for clearing away the ills of the body. There is no comforter to compare with goodwill for dispersing the shadows of grief and sorrow.
To live continually in thoughts of ill will, cynicism, suspicion, and envy, is to be confined in a self-made prison.
But to think well of all, to be cheerful with all, and to patiently learn to find the good in all, lead you to the very portals of heaven. To dwell day by day in thoughts of peace toward every creature will bring you abounding peace.
Until thought is linked with purpose there is no intelligent accomplishment. Do you allow your “ship” of thought to "drift" upon the ocean of life?
Aimlessness is a vice, and such drifting must not continue if you want to avoid failure and destruction.
If you have no central purpose in your life, you fall an easy prey to petty worries, fears, troubles, and self-pitying.
These negative thoughts are all indications of weakness. They lead, just as surely as deliberately planned sins (though by a different route), to failure and loss.
Weakness cannot persist in a power-oriented universe.
You should conceive of a legitimate purpose in your heart, and set out to accomplish it.
You should make this purpose the centralizing point of your thoughts. It may take the form of a spiritual ideal, or it may be a worldly object, according to your choosing.
Whichever it is, you should steadily focus your thought-forces upon the object you have set for yourself.
You should make this purpose your supreme duty and should devote yourself to its attainment. Do not allow your thoughts to wander away into passing fancies or vain imaginings.
This is the royal road to self-control and true concentration of thought.
Even if you fail again and again to accomplish your purpose, as you must until weakness is overcome, you will gain strength of character. This new strength will be the measure of your true success, and this will form a new starting point for future power and triumph.
If you are not yet prepared to take on a great purpose, then fix your thoughts upon the faultless performance of your duty. Do your job well, no matter how insignificant your tasks may appear.
Only in this way can your thoughts be gathered and focused, and your power and energy be developed.
Once this is done, there is nothing that you may not accomplish. Believe the truth that strength can only be developed by effort and practice. Once you understand this truth, you will begin to achieve your dreams.
By adding effort to effort, patience to patience, and strength to strength, you will never cease to develop and will at last grow divinely strong.
The physically weak man can make himself strong by careful and patient training. Likewise, if you maintain weak thought habits, you can make them strong by exercising yourself in right thinking.
Put away aimlessness and weakness and begin to think with purpose. Then you enter the ranks of those strong ones who only recognize failure as one of the pathways to attainment.
Having conceived of your purpose, you should mentally mark out a straight pathway to its achievement, looking neither to the right nor left.
Abolish your doubts and fears.
Shakespeare said, “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”
Thoughts of doubt and fear can never accomplish anything.
They always lead to failure. Purpose, energy, and your power of action all cease when doubt and fear creep in.
The will to do springs from the knowledge that we can do. Doubt and fear are the great enemies of knowledge, and if you do not slay them, you thwart yourself at every step.
When you conquer doubt and fear, you have conquered failure.
Your every thought is allied with power, and all your difficulties are bravely met and overcome.
Thought allied fearlessly to purpose becomes creative force. When you know this you are ready to become something higher and stronger than a bundle of wavering thoughts and fluctuating sensations.
You then become the conscious and intelligent wielder of your mental powers.
All that you achieve and all that you fail to achieve is the direct result of your own thoughts.
In a justly ordered universe, individual responsibility must be absolute. The laws of attraction, restoration, and cause and effect, must all maintain perfect balance. If not so, the universe would destroy itself.
Your weakness and strength, purity and impurity, are your own responsibility.
Your external conditions are brought about by yourself and not by another. Only you can choose to alter your thoughts and your circumstances.
Your sufferings and your happiness are created from within. As you think, so you are. As you continue to think, so you remain.
A strong person cannot help a weaker unless that weaker is willing to be helped. And even then the weak person must choose to become strong.
You must, by your own efforts, develop the strength that you admire in another. Only you can make the change!
Some men think, "Many men are slaves because one is an oppressor; let us hate the oppressor!"
Other men think, "One man is an oppressor because many are slaves; let us despise the slaves."
The truth is that oppressor and slaves cooperate with each other in ignorance. While seeming to afflict each other, they are really only afflicting themselves.
A perfect love, seeing the suffering that both states entail, condemns neither.
A perfect compassion embraces both oppressor and oppressed.
When you have conquered weakness and have pushed away all selfish thoughts, you belong neither to oppressor nor oppressed. You are free.
You can only rise, conquer, and achieve by lifting up your thoughts. You can only remain weak, hopeless, and miserable by refusing to lift up your thoughts.
Before you can achieve anything, even in worldly things, you must lift your thoughts above your physical appetites.
If your first thought is to satisfy your appetites, you can neither think clearly nor plan well. You cannot find and develop your latent resources and will fail in any undertaking.
Until you begin to control your thoughts, you are not in a position to control affairs and to adopt serious responsibilities.
You will reap neither progress nor achievement without sacrifice.
Your worldly success will come by the measure that you sacrifice your confused carnal thoughts. Fix your mind on the development of your plans. Strengthen your resolution and attain self-reliance.
The higher you lift your thoughts, the greater will be your success. The greater you focus your energy, the more enduring will be your achievements.
The universe does not favor the greedy or the dishonest, although on the mere surface it may sometimes appear to do so.
The universe helps the honest and the virtuous. All the great teachers of the ages have declared this in varying ways. To prove it and to know it, a man has only to persist in making himself increasingly virtuous by lifting up his thoughts.
Intellectual achievements are the result of thought consecrated to the search for knowledge or for the beautiful and true in nature. They are the natural outgrowth of long and patient effort, and of pure and unselfish thoughts.
Spiritual achievements are the fruits of holy desires. Live constantly in the pondering of noble and lofty thoughts.
Dwell upon all that is pure and selfless. You will then, as surely as the sun reaches its zenith, become wise and noble in character and rise into a position of influence and blessedness.
Achievement of any kind is the crown of effort. By the aid of self-control, resolution, purity, righteousness, and well-directed thought you will ascend.
By the aid of lust, laziness, impurity, corruption, and confusion of thought you will descend.
Some people rise to high success in the world, and again descend into weakness and wretchedness. They do this by allowing arrogant, selfish, and corrupt thoughts to take possession of their minds.
Victories attained by right thought can be maintained only by consistent effort. Many give up when success is nearly attained, and rapidly fall back into failure.
All achievements, whether in the business, intellectual, or spiritual world, are the result of definitely directed thought. The same law governs all success. The only difference is in the object of attainment.
He who would accomplish little need sacrifice little. He would achieve much must sacrifice much. He who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.
The dreamers are the saviors of the world. As the visible world is sustained by the invisible, we are nourished by the beautiful visions of our dreamers.
Do not forget your dreams. Do not let their ideals fade and die. Protect your dreams, for your dreams are the realities that you shall one day see and know.
Composer, sculptor, painter, poet, prophet, sage -- these are the makers of the after-world. They are the architects of heaven. The world is beautiful because they have lived. Without them, we will all perish.
Cherish your beautiful vision, and the lofty ideal in your heart, and you will one day realize it. Columbus cherished a vision of another world and he discovered it.
Copernicus fostered the vision of heavens full of worlds and a wider universe, and he revealed it. Buddha beheld the vision of a spiritual world of stainless beauty and perfect peace, and he entered into it.
Treasure your visions. Cling to your ideals. Nurture the music that stirs in your heart, and the beauty that forms in your mind. Hold dear the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts.
For out of your dreams and ideals will grow a delightful and heavenly environment. If you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built.
To desire is to obtain. To aspire is to achieve.
Shall your lowest desires receive full gratification, and your purest dreams starve for lack of nourishment? No, this is not the case for you. Nourish and feed and protect your visions. "Ask and ye shall receive."
Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be. Your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.
The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn. The bird waits in the egg. In the highest vision of a soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.
Your circumstances may be disagreeable, but they shall not remain so if you only perceive an ideal and strive to reach it. You can't travel within and stand still without. When you truly change within, these changes will be reflected (in time) in your outer world.
Consider the example of a youth hard pressed by poverty. He is confined long hours in an unhealthy workshop. He is unschooled and lacking all the arts of refinement. However, he dreams of better things!
He thinks of intelligence, of education, of grace and beauty. He conceives of and mentally builds up, an ideal condition of life.
A wider vision takes possession of him. Desires to achieve these dreams urge him to action. He uses all his spare time and resources to develop his increasing powers and abilities.
Very soon his mind expands so much that the workshop can no longer hold him.
His disagreeable living conditions become so out of harmony with his mind-set that they fall out of his life. New conditions manifest, that fit the scope of his expanding powers.
Years later we see this youth as a grown man. We find him a master of certain forces of the mind. He exerts worldwide influence and obtains almost unequaled power.
In his hands he holds the cords of gigantic responsibilities. He speaks and lives are changed. Men and women hang upon his words and remold their characters.
He has become the vision of his youth. He has become one with his ideal.
And you too will realize the vision (and not just the idle wish) of your heart. Your vision may be ugly or beautiful, or a mixture of both. You will always gravitate toward that which you secretly most love.
Into your hands will be placed the exact results of your own thoughts. You will receive that which you earn. You will get no more and no less than the law of restoration requires.
Whatever your present environment may be, you will fall, remain, or rise according to your thoughts, your vision, and your ideal.
You will become as small as your controlling desire. You will become as great as your dominant aspiration.
The thoughtless, the ignorant, and the lazy, see only the results of hard mental training. Then they talk of luck, of fortune, and chance.
Seeing a man grow rich, they say, "How lucky he is!"
Observing another become skilled intellectually, they exclaim, "How highly favored she is!"
And noting the saintly character and wide influence of another, they remark, "How chance helps her at every turn!"
They do not see the trials and failures and struggles that these people have encountered in order to gain their experience. They have no knowledge of the sacrifices they have made.
They do not consider the brave efforts they have put forth, or the faith they have exercised. They do not see the obstacles they have overcome to realize the vision of their heart.
They do not know the darkness and the heartaches. They only see the light and joy, and call it "luck."
They do not view the long and difficult journey, but only behold the pleasant goal and call it "good fortune."
They do not understand the process, but only perceive the result, and call it "chance."
In all human affairs there are efforts, and there are results. The strength of the effort is the measure of the result.
Gifts and powers are the result of work. Material, intellectual and spiritual possessions are the fruits of effort. They are thoughts completed, objectives accomplished, visions realized.
You will build your life by the vision you glorify in your mind. You will become the ideal you enthrone in your heart.
Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. It is the result of long and patient effort in self-control.
When you have calmness of mind, you have more than ordinary knowledge of the laws and operations of thought.
You become calm in the measure that you understand yourself as a thought-evolved being.
As you see ever more clearly the internal relations of things by the action of cause and effect, you cease to fuss, fume, worry, and grieve.
You remain poised, steadfast, and serene.
When you are calm, you know how to govern yourself, and know how to adapt yourself to others. And they, in turn reverence your spiritual strength.
They feel that they can learn from you and rely upon you. The more tranquil you become, the greater is your success, your influence, and your power for good.
No matter what your vocation, your prosperity will increase as you develop a greater self-control and calmness. People will always prefer to deal with a person whose conduct is calm.
When strong and calm, you are always loved and revered. You are like a shade-giving tree in a thirsty land, or a sheltering rock in a storm.
Who does not love a tranquil heart, and a sweet-tempered, balanced life? It does not matter whether it rains or shines, or what changes come, when you possess these blessings. You are always serene and calm.
That exquisite poise of character that we call serenity is the last lesson of culture. It is the flowering of life and the satisfaction of the soul.
Serenity is as precious as wisdom, and more desirable than fine gold. A serene life is much more important that money.
How many people we know who sour their lives, who ruin all that is sweet and beautiful by explosive tempers. They destroy their poise of character and ruin their health!
So many people ruin their lives and spoil their happiness by lack of self-control. You can choose to live above this.
How few people we meet in life who are well balanced, who have that exquisite poise which is characteristic of the finished character.
When you are wise, your thoughts are controlled and purified. Then you make the winds and the storms of the soul obey.
Tempest-tossed souls, wherever you may be, know this. In the ocean of life the islands of blessedness are smiling and the sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming.
Keep your hands firmly upon the helm of thought. In the core of your soul reclines the commanding Master. He does but sleep. Wake Him.
Self-control is strength. Right thought is mastery. Calmness is power.
Say unto your heart, "Peace. Be still."
As A Man Thinketh – New Version
By James Allen (Revised by Christopher Westra)
Why the New Revised Edition for As a Man Thinketh?
This book made a tremendous impact on my life. I want to share it with as many people as possible. As I write this in 2010, the population of the world is just reaching 7 billion people.
Millions of people approach adulthood every year, and can benefit from this classic. In my opinion, many more people will be able to read and understand it in this revised edition.
To improve readability, I’ve changed some archaic or less-known words to simpler words. I’ve also broken up extra long sentences, and made the text more personal by using “You” instead of the generic “Man”.
This Book is in the Public Domain
The original text of As A Man Thinketh is in the Public Domain. This is why I can revise the book and update it.
I could copyright my revised version, but I choose not to. I hereby state that my version is also in the Public Domain. This means that you can do anything you want with it.
You can change it, make an audio recording, sell it, or anything. I just want to get the message to as many people as possible. You are not required to credit me. If you do want to help spread the revised version, simply direct people to the website below:
Changes I’ve made
1. Changed lesser-known words for simpler terms and explanations.
2. Split up really long sentences into shorter ones that are easier to read.
3. Changed it into conversational language using “You” instead of “Man”. This also changed it to less sexist language. Here is an example below:
For example, here is a sentence in the original.
A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.
In this new version, this sentence is changed into the following:
You are literally what you think, your character being the complete sum of all your thoughts.
You can download the original version at the website below:
About the Changes in the Book
Just for your information, here are some of the words that I changed. The replacement words I used are in the parentheses.
Aphorism (saying), fruitage (fruits), bestial (savage), ignoble (cowardly), importunity (seeking), buffeted (knocked about), vicissitudes (changed the wording), manacled (chained), dross (impurities), indigence (poverty), commence (start), bestial (lustful), enervating (weak), irresolute (timid), genial (pleasant), temperance (moderation), repose (serenity), malevolent (offensive), inharmonious (unsightly), abode (home), bark (ship), ephemeral (passing), equipoise (balance), abject (hopeless), consummation (fruits), aspirations (desires), indolence (laziness), animality (lust), sustenance (nourishment), wield (exert), aspirations (dreams)